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Holistic approach needed to curb potential GP shortage

A recent aged care survey by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has shown that one in three doctors intend to cut back on or completely end their visits to people in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) over the next two years.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) chief executive Sean Rooney said the expectations of older Australians and their families, combined with an aged care system experiencing significant change, cannot be ignored.

Rooney said the recent AMA Aged Care Survey findings highlighting the lack of doctors visiting residents in aged care was a worry.

He said that it is vital that GPs are appropriately incentivised to care for older Australians, whether in their homes or in RACFs.

In March, LASA approached the federal government about concerns regarding the Practice Incentives Program (PIP), General Practitioner Aged Care Access Incentive (ACAI) component, which aims to encourage GPs to provide increased and continuing services in Australian Government funded RACFs.

“Recognising that older Australians are entering residential aged care with increasingly complex care needs, this program needs to be designed so that demand for GPs is met and quality primary care is provided,” Rooney said.

This is especially important for the country’s regional and remote aged care sector as they encounter unique challenges in their operations such as the impacts of geographical isolation, access to healthcare, and availability of reliable and fast information, the statement read.

Rooney said the priority for older Australians living in any community or aged care home is having access to quality and responsive GP care, as many have complex and chronic conditions, which will in turn avoid unnecessary hospitalisations.

He said these goals require a strategic partnership between the government and the health and aged care sectors, drawing on work that includes the new report by the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

“Critical to this will be adequate investment of funds, with consideration of both Government funding and fair and affordable consumer contributions towards the costs of aged care,” he said.

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